The final BCS rankings and matchups for the BCS games won’t be officially announced until Sunday night.
Thanks to Ohio State’s loss and barring some successful, last-minute backroom politicking, however, the marquee postseason games are all but set in stone.
First and foremost, top-ranked Florida State and third-ranked (for now) Auburn will square off in the BCS title game, scheduled for Jan. 6 in Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl. The Seminoles are the lone remaining undefeated team in the country, having bulldozed its way through its 2013 schedule to the combined tune of 689-139. The SEC champion Tigers are just one year removed from a winless season in conference play that ended with Gene Chizik getting booted into the unemployment coaching line just two years removed from AU’s last BCS title.
The Rose Bowl, armed with agreements with the Big Ten and Pac-12, is set as well, with 12-1 Michigan State and 11-2 Stanford, each winners of their respective league’s championship games Saturday, set for the New Year’s Day game.
That leaves the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls with spots up for grabs, although those are all but officially filled as well.
For the final year of the BCS, the picking pecking order will go Orange, Sugar and Fiesta. The first two will lose their conference champ tie-ins to the BCS title game, with the Orange getting the first pick of a replacement ahead of the Sugar in addition to the first at-large selection.
The Orange Bowl, according to various bowl officials and media outlets, appear poised to select 12-1 Ohio State and 10-2 Clemson for the Jan. 3 game. The Buckeyes, despite the loss in the Big Ten title game, are still an attractive selection given their national brand and how their fans travel, while the Tigers will benefit from the ACC/Orange Bowl relationship cultivated over many years.
Alabama, by virtue of a top-4 finish in the final BCS rankings — the 11-1 Tide was No. 4 entering Week 15 — is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, which by most every projection will be the Sugar Bowl. The opponent, though, is the biggest BCS uncertainty remaining. 10-2 Oklahoma is the name most mentioned, thanks in large part to the Big 12/SEC/Sugar/Champions Bowl agreement moving forward in the new College Football Playoff. The Sooners also must finish inside the top-14 in the final BCS rankings, though. Another possibility? 10-2 Oregon, although there is concern as to how the Ducks’ fan base would travel to New Orleans.
The Fiesta Bowl is contractually obligated to take the Big 12 champion, meaning 11-1 Baylor is guaranteed to fill one of that postseason game’s spots. Because the AAC is guaranteed a BCS berth, and because the Fiesta Bowl gets the last selection behind the Orange and Sugar, the American champion UCF (11-1) will head to the desert for a date with the Bears.
(Writer’s note: under BCS guidelines, no conference can have more than two of its teams play in a BCS bowl in any one year.)
Below are CFT’s projections for the five BCS games, although the Sugar Bowl is most decidedly to be determined:
VIZIO BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 3 Auburn
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO
Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
No. 7 Stanford vs. No. 10 Michigan State
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 16 UCF
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA
No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 18 Oklahoma
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL
Jan. 3, TBD
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Clemson